What does a jib operator do?
Jib operators are camera operators who’ve also trained to use a jib (known as a Jimmy Jib).
A jib is a special kind of crane at the end of which you attach a camera; there’s a counterweight at the other end for balance. It’s used to capture a variety of shots, such as overhead or long sweeping moves, and can film a complete 360 degree shot. Jibs are lightweight alternatives to the cranes that are used for filming similar shots on large-budget films and TV dramas, so can be rigged in a shorter amount of time and used in smaller or more challenging locations.
Jib operators capture the shots that the camera supervisor or director asks for. They swing the jib to move the camera, creating moving shots while adjusting the pan, focus, tilt and zoom. They also set up the jib and maintain it, fixing mechanical issues as they arise, and they’re responsible for health and safety – jibs can be very hazardous.
Jib shots (sometimes known as boom shots) can be used on any productions but are particularly useful for filming sport. Jib operators often work on live productions and multi-camera productions. They are often freelance and sometimes even own their own equipment. Or they might be employed by an equipment rental company.
What's a jib operator good at?
- Photography: have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus and framing
- Knowledge of cameras and supports: understand how cameras and jib arms work, and how to operate the dollies or pedestals to which they’re attached
- Communication: listen, do what’s asked and ensure everyone knows what you are doing and where you are taking the jib
- Health and safety: know how to operate the jib safely, be aware of those around you and the environment you are working in
- Lifting: know how to move heavy kit safely, be physically fit and resilient